Facebook launches Slingshot for iPhone


Facebook's Slingshot, the long-rumoured Snapchat rival from the social networking company, has finally been launched for iPhone users.

The ephemeral social messaging app allows users to share photos and videos "in the moment," sharing everyday experiences between friends. The feature that sets Slingshot apart from its rivals is that recipients of these photos and videos won't be able to view them until they have sent something in reply. A post on the app's blog reads:

"Photos and videos that don't stick around forever allow for sharing that's more expressive, raw and spontaneous. We can connect the same way we like to live: in the moment."

Rumours of Facebook's Snapchat-like app were confirmed after the application was "accidentally" launched for iPhone users in a number of countries before being pulled from the app store.

Facebook has previously attempted to make a rival app to popular messenger Snapchat, as well as reportedly trying to buy it for $3 billion in 2013.

Rumours about Facebook developing their own competing app, dubbed Slingshot, have been circulating for some time, and it's imminent launch was confirmed by the small, reportedly unplanned, rollout on Tuesday 9 June.

Before the app was pulled, iPhone users and news outlets were able to capture images of Slingshot, as well as marketing text explaining how it might eventually work. It is, as suspected, much like its most obvious competitor in that it allows users to share photos and video clips, with the option to draw on them before sending. There are, however, some extra features.

The app's marketing text states: "Slingshot lets you quickly share moments little and big with all your friends. Shoot a photo or video of what you're up to and sling it to a bunch of people. They won't be able to see your shot until they sling something back. Tap on a shot to react, or simply swipe it away."

Facebook released a statement at the time apparently confirming the event was not intentional on their part, saying: "Earlier today, we accidentally released a version of Slingshot, a new app we're working on. With Slingshot, you'll be able to share everyday moments with lots of people at once. It'll be ready soon and we're excited for you to try it out."

Speaking at Stanford university in January, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg commented on the success of Snapchat: "I think Snapchat is a super interesting privacy phenomenon because it creates a new kind of space to communicate which makes it so that things that people previously would not have been able to share, you now feel like you have a place to do so.

"I think that's really important and that's a big kind of innovation that we're going to keep pushing on and keep trying to do more on and I think a lot of other companies will, too."

Though they failed to acquire Snapchat, Facebook did succeed in purchasing WhatsApp earlier this year, and it's possible that features apparent in Slingshot could be incorporated into future versions of the messaging app.

Caroline Preece

Caroline has been writing about technology for more than a decade, switching between consumer smart home news and reviews and in-depth B2B industry coverage. In addition to her work for IT Pro and Cloud Pro, she has contributed to a number of titles including Expert Reviews, TechRadar, The Week and many more. She is currently the smart home editor across Future Publishing's homes titles.

You can get in touch with Caroline via email at caroline.preece@futurenet.com.